You’ve come to terms with the fact that you don’t exactly get along with your ex-spouse. But, at the end of the day you still recognize you want to do the best you can to work together at some capacity as you navigate joint custody.

For divorced parents who aren’t on the same page anymore, parallel parenting might be a better option than co-parenting. Parallel parenting makes away for parents to detach from each other’s lives but still be present for their children.

How does it differ from co-parenting?

In a parallel parenting arrangement, there is a lot of planning involved and the custody schedule doesn’t allow for much flexibility. To create minimal interaction, details like the time and place of your children’s pick-up or drop-off remain consistent. Typically, larger decisions about each child’s health or education will be joint decisions, but parents will individually decide on smaller details like rules, meal times or discipline methods. On the other hand, traditional co-parent relationships are more collaborative and there is a lot more communication involved.

Additionally, through parallel parenting, attendance to child-related events will be separate. Like, instead of attending a child’s hockey game or school conference together, parents will switch off so they don’t have to be in the same place at the same time or attend them separately. In co-parenting, it’s not unheard of that a divorced couple would attend these events together and put differences aside for the sake of their children.

Does it have to last forever?

No parenting plan has to be permanent. For many families, a less-involved, parallel parenting approach serves as a great temporary arrangement that allows parents to settle into their life without their spouse.

The idea is that with any plan you choose, your kids remain the focal point. So, maybe parallel parenting keeps you in a better mood, which in turn enhances your parenting. Or perhaps co-parenting gives you leeway to be highly communicative about your baby who is constantly growing and changing. You have to choose what is best for your situation and adapt as needed.